As women of color, we wanted our activist project to present a message that was important for current and future generations. There was a consensus that women of color face many challenges but often the first challenge we face is colorism; discrimination based on skin color. We are often told that certain shades are more desirable than others and that the statement “Beauty is more than skin deep” is not always the case. To some, exterior beauty plays a role in things such as, how intelligent a woman is and how well of a partner she will be. Continue reading
Starting off at MS Swim, I genuinely did not think of it as a form of activism. I have volunteered routinely at various organizations since I was 14, and it has just become a way of life for me. However after going through this course, Studies in Feminist Activism, I have come to understand the true activism that takes place through volunteer work.
When we first started this project, we knew very little about UMBC’s Gender Inclusive housing option. The information available on it was scarce and outdated. In addition, both our individual experiences and the experiences we’d heard about from others who had applied for Gender Inclusive Housing (GIH) in the past made us concerned for the situation. We’d heard that RAs and those in Living Learning Communities were not allowed to participate in Gender Inclusive Housing. We experienced being assigned an apartment instead of getting to choose where we live like those in standard housing. We were told that someone’s Gender Inclusive Housing application was denied. It seemed to us as though many aspects of the Gender Inclusive housing process were at best, inconvenient, and at worst, outright discriminatory. Continue reading
When coming up with an idea for my activist project I thought about what kinds of ideas and issues I am passionate about. Since we are in the age of technology I knew that I wanted to do a social media based project. I decided to focus on the image(s) of black women presented in popular media.
Power Inside is a Baltimore organization that was founded by Jacqueline Robarge in May, 2001. Its original concept was a self-esteem group for about 50 women in the Baltimore City Detention Center, but Robarge had bigger ideas. She wanted to bring practices of harm reduction — the minimizing of harmful consequences of various behaviors and situations — to these women. Continue reading
In early March I attended the National Young Feminist Leadership Conference. There I networked, learned how to utilize media in activist campaigns, and gained more knowledge about discourse. But was attending NYFLC activism? It didn’t feel like it. I had thought surrounding myself with activists would achieve something. I don’t know what that something was, but maybe that was enough? I doubted it.
(An inspiration to us all)
Anxiety and depression played a part in this mediocrity. I don’t have much energy and motivation is rare. However, my friend Xixi attended the conference with me. She also acted as my motivation, dragging, or inviting me, to events on campus in April. She mollified my anxiety so that I could have fun at the conference and at on-campus events.
Two of the events she took me to were held by the Women’s Center; “Telling Their Stories” and “Take Back the Night”. It was great to see women of color dance, sing, and recite poetry at “Telling Their Stories”. A large crowd gathered in the Commons for TBTN to hear the stories of survivors of sexual violence. Everyone was respectful; each moment, even in silence, felt sacred. It was a spiritual experience.
But what affected me the most was the march held later that evening for TBTN. I never expected that I would ever be holding up a sign while loudly chanting and marching around campus. But I did it, and it made me feel that, in a small way, I was doing activism. I’m not a loud person, but it was comforting to be in a group so that I wasn’t the only one yelling in public.
Holding up painted cardboard and screaming was the most powerful experience I have had on this journey towards activism. It wasn’t a part of my original plan, but I think that’s a good thing, as the activism happened naturally. Overall, I feel my project is successful; I’ve learned activism can be impactful at a micro level.
I discovered that I have it in me to be an activist even if it’s a struggle. I aim to participate more in the future, look out for more events, and become more comfortable with myself. This is a never ending project; I can never stop learning about feminism and activism.
WNOIL is about unrestrained expression. It is intended to give a voice to an issue that is silently felt and shared amongst women. Today we live in a culture that objectifies and sexualizes women daily. One main symptom of the internalization of these attitudes is self-monitoring. To put it simply, because we are taught that our bodies are objects to be viewed and consumed, women are often caught in the daily struggle of ensuring that the way we look, walk, talk, smell, eat or even sit is “up to par” with the expectations of others. Often we can be limited in what we do by the fear of judgment and criticism. Because of this WNOIL has been created. It is a safe space to showcase our talent, skill, passion. Our uniqueness. It is a space to be who we are When No One is Looking. Continue reading